San Francisco Power Outage Teaches Lessons of Preparedness - Be Prepared - Emergency Essentials
[caption id="attachment_21710" align="alignright" width="300"]Cable Car - Business Insider San Francisco Power Outage A cable car sits motionless during the San Francisco power outage on April 21, 2017 - via Business Insider[/caption] On the morning of April 21, 2017, a fire in one electric company substation left almost 90,000 people – 10 percent of San Francisco – in the dark. Schools and businesses closed. Rush-hour traffic was thrown into chaos as traffic lights went dark, cable cars stopped and a downtown subway station closed. Surgeons paused mid-operation waiting for generators to kick in, and hospitals canceled procedures and sent emergency patients to other hospitals. Emergency workers had to struggle through snarled traffic to rescue people trapped in places like elevators. Fortunately, no one died or sustained serious injury, and no traffic accidents were reported. Even so, the power company didn’t completely restore service until that evening. Even a small power outage can knock out electricity for a long time – long enough for food in the refrigerator to spoil and those who rely on powered medical devices to be in trouble. Longer outages of several days could cause widespread government, financial and infrastructure destruction, according to a National Research Council workshop. A 2003 blackout that left 50 million people in the eastern United States and Canada without power caused between $4 and $6 billion damage and contributed to at least 11 deaths. Both utilities and government have taken many steps to improve the way they handle potential failures, including establishing communication plans and practicing emergencies. Their preparations are instructive for everyone. [caption id="attachment_21711" align="alignright" width="300"]San Francisco Power Outage A police officer directs traffic during the San Francisco power outage on April 21, 2017 - via East Bay Times[/caption] The first thing cities do when the power goes out is make sure everyone is safe, according to this story in Wired. During a power outage, emergency personnel from many agencies must coordinate. People are stuck in elevators and subways. Hospitals must arrange ambulances to transport patients to other hospitals whose lights are on. With traffic signals shut down, roads quickly become congested. All these issues require communication with multiple agencies and with members of the public, at a time when cellular service quickly gets overwhelmed. Cities respond to communication difficulties with dedicated liaisons between agencies and the public. Sometimes, they even have a control center, according to the Wired story. There they can coordinate to get services to those who need them. You can keep communication lines open with a communication plan. Keep mobile devices like cell phones, tablets, and laptops charged and have a backup power source for them. During a power outage, dim your phone or tablet’s screen, turn off Wi-Fi and close unnecessary apps to save battery power, suggests this story from USA Today. “These devices will help you communicate with your power company, and they’ll help you stay up to date on restoration efforts, weather forecasts, and other important information,” says the U.S. Department of Energy. Make sure all family members know how to reach an emergency contact, preferably one out of the area. Learn about your area’s emergency plans so you know where to go to keep warm or cool if the weather’s bad. Municipalities often designate places like libraries as warming or cooling stations and provide backup power there. If you rely on a power-dependent medical device, communicate with utilities and emergency services before a power outage, so they can prioritize your location to restore power more quickly. Next, be flexible. According to the Wired story, during the power outage, San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency sent all its available parking officers to direct traffic. Some cities provide bus service to bypass dark subway stations. The story also described how after the 2003 blackout, cities learned they need backups for electronic doors, phones, air conditioning and communication. Keep your car’s fuel tank at least half full in case you need it to keep warm or cool, or to charge electronic device, or to travel through congestion. Replace the manual release for an electric garage door opener. Never run a car in a garage or other partially enclosed space, to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Redo your dinner plans to keep the refrigerator and freezer closed. Food keeps cold in an unpowered fridge for about four hours if you keep the door closed, and a powerless freezer for about 48 hours. Use your fridge foods first and pantry foods last. Have water on hand. Water pumping stations that lose electricity can’t keep water flowing to your home. After the power outage, cities review how well their plans worked. Do the same thing. Did you keep comfortable? Were you able to communicate with family members and friends? Were your health care needs met? February - Power Banner San Francisco Power Outage
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1 comment

Sharon L. Soares

Sharon L. Soares

EVERYONE, adults, children, teenagers, all need to have BOB"s (bug-out-bag) with at least 3days of food, water, shelter, defense, and know how to use every item and when. Examples from recent disasters: the Orville Dam Disaster, 100k people had to evacuate immediately. Local TV station interviewed folks up and down the crowded line of cars asking what had time to grab before leaving, sadly, nothing life saving. They all expected to arrive at emergency centers to be taken of. Next was the massive hurricane hitting the Carolines’. People had two to three days to prepare to leave. I watched one middle couple being interviewed, they were asked how the prep was going. The wife said they couldn’t find bottled water anywhere, had one more possibility left. So this couple drove all over town burning gas they’d need to evacuate. I thought, what’s wrong with your tap water? The town still had all utilities but this couple couldn’t find bottled water? People need to check out your webpage and learn to read and understand “being prepared”. Critical thinking and common sense seen to have fled our country. A complete BOB with 3days min. supplies for each person can and will save your life and relieve the horrific stress one is placed in during a disaster, any disaster. Can’t understand why this is so hard for folks to think of. One “get home bag” in your car and one at home, ready to grab and go. $100.00 on some electronic gadget instead of a BOB that will save your life? So, so, easy to do. People ask me “what’s a BOB?”, really???

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